To Grain or Not to Grain: Choosing Between Grain and Grain-Free Diets

Trying to find the best food for your dog or cat but stuck on the grain versus grain-free hamster wheel? Come along for the ride and find out what grains you’ll find in dog and cat foods, why they’re included, and when to pick grain-inclusive or grain-free diets for your fur baby!

Look at any bag of dog or cat food these days and you’re just as likely to see “Grain-Free!” as you are to find grains in the ingredients. The debate between grain-inclusive and grain-free diets for dogs and cats is ongoing, leaving many pet parents wondering what they should feed their fur babies. But the truth is that there’s no simple answer. Both types of diets have benefits and drawbacks. As such, the best diet for your dog or cat comes down to their individual needs, dietary requirements, and preferences. Let’s dive into the world of grain and grain-free dog and cat foods!

What Grains Are in Dog and Cat Foods?

Some homemade and commercial dog and cat foods are formulated with a variety of grains, such as:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Rye

One of the main reasons grain-free diets became popular is because wild canines and felines don’t go around eating bread and rice bowls. People figured that if wolves and cougars don’t eat grains, then neither should their domesticated relatives. The thing is, while it’s true that these animals are carnivores who don’t forage grains in the wild, they do consume some grains because they feed on herbivores who eat them.

Getting Your Dog or Cat on the Grain-Train

Another reason people embraced grain-free diets is because grains are often lumped in with fillers. But the fact is that grains aren’t fillers. They’re excellent sources of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and calories. In other words, they can be a nutritious part of your dog’s or cat’s diet. You might choose grain-inclusive diets if your dog or cat:

  • Doesn’t have allergies or sensitivities
  • Is overweight (grain-inclusive diets are usually lower in calories and fat)
  • Isn’t highly active
  • Enjoys healthy digestion

Why Choose Grain-Free Diets for Dogs and Cats

While many dogs and cats thrive on diets that include grains, there are also ones that don’t. For these animals, switching to grain-free recipes can make all the difference in terms of weight, energy, allergies, itchiness, digestion, and general health and happiness. In place of grains, these diets often feature carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and legumes.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering a grain-free diet:

  • They can be great for dogs or cats with food allergies or sensitivities
  • Animals with digestive issues and sensitive stomachs can thrive on grain-free diets
  • They can be suitable for active dogs and cats who need additional calories in their diets
  • They may not be suitable for overweight animals because of the calories, carbohydrates, and fats

Grain or Grain-Free, Choose High-Quality, Limited-Ingredient Recipes

Whether your dog or cat thrives on a grain-inclusive diet or needs grain-free food, PureVita recipes from NutriSource have you covered. These nutrient-driven, limited-ingredient diets feature single-source animal proteins and novel protein options. Grain-inclusive or grain-free, the high-quality recipes are ideal for dogs and cats with food sensitivities, allergies, weight problems, sensitive stomachs, picky palates and more. Available in kibble, Tetra stews, and patés, PureVita foods will delight, nourish, and energize every dog and cat, regardless of whether they eat grains or not.



Animal Wellness is North America’s top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *